Re: Re: Badon, Ambrosius, and Arthur

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Jamie
Keymaster

Hi Howard, I'm glad you're enjoying the show.  I was actually waiting for a post like this, since just about everything in the Dark Ages is up for debate.  Hehe.Now since you just found the podcast I'm not sure if you have listened to the Sources of Confusion episode yet.  In that episode, I tried to do my best to convey to everyone that I trust Gildas just about as far as I can thow him.  Consequently, I really hope that I wasn't conveying that Badon Hill was fact.  I think just about everything from this era is up in the air.  The only thing I'm pretty certain of is that the Anglo Saxons did come over.But I would be more than happy to discuss the theory of Mons Badonicus.  Gildas is a tough nut to crack, I think you'd agree.  And it's made all the harder by numerous editions and translations.  You're right that Gildas doesn't say directly that Ambrosius won Badonicus.  However, he does talk about Ambrosius in the line directly before Badonicus.  Now some editions contain a line break, while others don't, and that seems to have lead to some amount of disagreement on whether or not the two are connected.  I'm of the thought that Gildas wouldn't have taken the time to write out the name of a general (when he typically avoided names unless he was hurling insults) and then write of a great victory and intend the two to be seen as completely separate incidents.  It was uncharacteristic and as such, I suspect that he intended the two statements to be viewed together.That being said, Gildas was a rather nutty fellow so I don't know how much we can trust his account.  But I'm of the opinion that he intended the two thoughts to be connected.As for Hengist and Horsa vs. Arthur.  You're right that Arthur is a real name.  However, I think I'm pretty fair on Arthur on this.  I'm not convinced that Hengist and Horsa existed, nor am I convinced that Arthur existed.  I think they are both on the same level when it comes to mythological beginnings.  But I do think that the myths drew upon real events in both cases.  Most of Arthur's battles take place at crossings etc.  That's an ideal spot for a small cavalry unit to engage a larger infantry unit.  Badon Hill has as good of a historical foundation as we could hope from this era.  And we have other references such as Riothamus.  All in all, it's possible that Arthur was Ambrosius, some other unifying general, or an amalgamation of generals during that time.  Your post seemed to imply that I believe in Hengist and Horsa but not Arthur.  I'm worried if that's the impression the podcast gave.  The truth of it, which I tried to make clear towards the end of the podcast, is that I don't believe there was a Hengist, Horsa, or Arthur.  If there was an Arthur, I just cannot believe that Gildas would mention Ambrosius and not Arthur.  He was nutty, but not THAT nutty.  Even if he thought he was a bad king (maybe Arthur was Pagan, leading to all that stuff about the water) well Gildas would have at least spoke about him as a beast of the apocalypse.  But nothing.  No mention.  I realize he was a zealot and not a historian and we cant read too much into his silences.  But that silence is pretty significant, and I think we can at least read a little into that one. But that being said, Arthur is something that people feel incredibly strong about.  I cant tell you how many books I've seen from normally level headed writers who open up with the assumption that Arthur existed and it's just a matter of finding him.  People are really invested in that particular national myth.  But if we are detached from the investment when we look at it, even the idea that his name was Arthur is highly questionable.  Anyway, I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I think Badon Hill, Hengist, Horsa, Ambrosius, or nearly anything else from this era is fact.  I think it's all questionable.  ;)

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